State Fact Sheet

Public Safety in Utah

Utah’s governor signed into law landmark sentencing and corrections reforms in March 2015 that prioritize expensive prison beds for serious and violent offenders, strengthen probation and parole, and expand reentry and treatment programs. In addition to improving public safety and holding offenders accountable, the law is expected to virtually eliminate projected growth in the prison population and save the state more than $500 million over the next two decades. The reforms were based on recommendations from the bipartisan, interbranch Utah Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice, which consulted with a variety of stakeholders and received intensive technical assistance from Pew as part of the Justice Reinvestment Initiative. H.B. 348 passed both chambers of the Legislature by overwhelming majorities.

The prison gates must be a permanent exit from the system, not just a revolving door. Governor Gary Herbert

Utah’s prison population grew by 22 percent over the past decade, pushing corrections costs to more than $250 million annually. The commission concluded that the size and expense of the prison system had not brought state taxpayers adequate public safety results: Nearly half of offenders who leave Utah prisons (46 percent) are back within three years. Absent reform, the prison population was projected to grow by another 37 percent by 2034.